The world's oldest library gets a 21st century face lift

"We were always discovering things as we were ripping out walls," she says. One standout discovery for her was a hidden room that had a 12th century cupola made with intricate lattice wood. "It was this extremely refined and unusual type of roof that was hidden away," she recalls. "It's typical of the element of surprise you fine in Fez. You'll have these narrow streets and find a small door that enters into an amazing courtyard."
From The world's oldest library gets a 21st century face lift - CNN.com
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Librarians Stand Again Against FBI Overreach

"The Connecticut Four" libarians who fought FBI "national security letters" seeking information on patrons and compelling librarians' silence on the demands are speaking out again. Fresh efforts are afoot in the U.S. Senate to expand the FBI's ability to require libraries to hand over private information in the absence of a judge's order. 
From Librarians Stand Again Against FBI Overreach - Hartford Courant
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Don't Call Me Baby, Sweetie or Cupcake!

I’ve worked at my local public library long enough to be on a first-name basis with many of our patrons. And the rest greet me with the courtesy and respect that, as a trained professional, not to mention a woman over 50, I deserve. Except for when they don’t. From time to time, a patron will call me “sweetie.” Or “honey-bunch.” Or “dear.” I have to put up with it, but I don’t have to like it. And I‘m not alone. Recently a fellow librarian posted this lament on Facebook: “A patron just called me baby. Can I go home now?” The comments this inspired from other librarians were sympathetic:
From Don't Call Me Baby, Sweetie or Cupcake! | ZestNow
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Printed easter eggs: fore-edge paintings hidden in books

High-end printers began decorating the edges of books as the craft developed, including dyeing and gilding the edges, but in the 17th century, artisans began creating fore-edge paintings that could only be seen when books were fanned.
From Printed easter eggs: fore-edge paintings hidden in books / Boing Boing
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A Nonfiction Literary Map Of The United States

And what better way to do that than by reading? While Welty was referencing the importance of place in fiction, there is little doubt that its importance in nonfiction is similarly essential. The very best writing about a place can bring the reader a whole new understanding of a life different than their own, as well as, per Welty, a better grasp of their own place in the world. Here then, are some of the best pieces of nonfiction from every state in America. (Plus D.C., naturally; and with a special shout-out to New York City, because, obviously.)
From A Nonfiction Literary Map Of The United States
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Australian library releases free, remixable webcomics maker

"Libraries aren't there to enforce a curriculum: they exist for the whole community to learn and create on their own terms. That's what makes this comic maker project special: it's meant to open the doorway to an understanding of 'digital literacy' which is not just about consumption; which is open, flexible, and most importantly, capable of surprising us.
From Australian library releases free, remixable webcomics maker / Boing Boing
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What Can You Read if you're Incarcerated in a Texas Prison?

If you're one of the more than 140,000 people doing time in a Texas state prison, you're not allowed to read books by Bob Dole, Harriet Beecher Stowe or Sojourner Truth. But you're more than welcome to dig into Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" or David Duke's "My Awakening." Story from LA Times Jacket Copy.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has banned 15,000 books from the correctional facilities it operates, most recently Dan Slater's new "Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel," the Guardian reports.

The news comes in the middle of Banned Books Week, the annual event celebrating literature that's been targeted by censors.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone of the American Library Assn., a Banned Books Week sponsor, blasted Texas’ decision to ban "Wolf Boys," about two Texas teenagers who go to work for the Zetas, an infamous Mexican drug cartel, and are caught and sentenced. The book is nonfiction: Both teenagers are housed in Texas prisons.

Six words added to Oxford English Dictionary to celebrate Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday Anniversary

Roald Dahl, who was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter and fighter pilot, remembered for his witty, beautifully written children’s books, the author having created some of our most beloved fictional characters. He often used incredibly unique words to describe the vivid worlds of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda.
From Six words added to Oxford English Dictionary to celebrate Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday Anniversary – MyKotori
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Boston looking to turn the page on lack of school libraries

More than half of public schools in Boston do not have libraries, leaving thousands of students — the majority of them in distressed neighborhoods — without a safe place to study and access to resources so they can learn more, according to a new 
district report. Seventy-three of 126 schools in Boston do not have a library — and even at those that do, most don’t have full-time librarians or enough books, according to the five-year Boston Public Schools library services plan approved by the School Committee this week.
From BPS looking to turn the page on lack of libraries | Boston Herald
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A scene of homeless misery greets patrons trying to use Santa Ana's award-winning library

ut a visit to the downtown library has become, on many days, a walk through a gantlet of misery: Homeless men and women sleep in the lawn while others plead with visitors for change. Inside the building, signs warned people to avoid restrooms where some homeless use sinks and even toilet water to bathe themselves and wash their clothes. Some of Santa Ana’s down and out used the study carrels to look for jobs — others shot up drugs, with syringes found discarded in planters and even a box of toilet seat covers. Security guards carry syringe disposal kits on their tool belts.
From A scene of homeless misery greets patrons trying to use Santa Ana's award-winning library - LA Times

Robot-written reviews fool academics

Using automatic text generation software, computer scientists at Italy’s University of Trieste created a series of fake peer reviews of genuine journal papers and asked academics of different levels of seniority to say whether they agreed with their recommendations to accept for publication or not. In a quarter of cases, academics said they agreed with the fake review’s conclusions, even though they were entirely made up of computer-generated gobbledegook – or, rather, sentences picked at random from a selection of peer reviews taken from subjects as diverse as brain science, ecology and ornithology.
From Robot-written reviews fool academics | THE News

When Libraries Don’t Provide Value

Librarians tend to agree that their libraries deliver value to community members. But what exactly does that mean? What type of value? Time saving value? Life changing value? Those are quite different. What value do libraries offer? New research identifies 30 types of value of four levels in a Maslow’s like hierarchy. We need to be intentional about designing for value delivery.
From When Libraries Don’t Provide Value – Designing Better Libraries
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In Banned Books Scavenger Hunt, The Prize Is Literary 'Smut'

The whole idea for the hunt was motivated by the desire to have more of the public involved in Banned Books Week, which runs this year from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, says Linnea Hegarty, executive director of the D.C. Public Library Foundation. When books are banned, their supporters disguise them and circulate them surreptitiously, she says, and the idea was to capture that spirit.
From In Banned Books Scavenger Hunt, The Prize Is Literary 'Smut' : NPR
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Old books imitate art?

With the invention of the e-reader and digital downloads of books, you might not be buying as many books as you used to. But what if you have dozens of vintage books from over the years? Book readers, you can turn your books into art and home decor! Make sure you don’t have any first editions, of course, and then consider the following hints:
From Hints From Heloise: Old books imitate art? - The Washington Post
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ALA Executive Director Fiels Announces Retirement

In announcing his retirement to ALA staff, Fiels said, “It has been an incredible honor to have served my colleagues, libraries, and the public in this position for going on 15 years, during which we have made significant strides—and weathered a few storms. The staff and membership of ALA are the most amazing group of individuals that anyone could ever ask to work with.”
From ALA Executive Director Fiels Announces Retirement | American Libraries Magazine
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Will school libraries soon be gone?

However, as a result of the lack of funding from No Child Left Behind, several districts have been forced to close libraries or asked teachers to pick up those responsibilities. "This has hurt the state and schools because school libraries aren't supported in the state of Michigan," Lester said. "Currently, only 8 percent of libraries have a full-time certified librarian staffing them." The decline first started in 2003 and has steadily been on a downward slant ever since, Lester said.
From Will school libraries soon be gone?

Japanese Craftsman Brings Old Books Back to Life by Making Them Look Brand New

This Tokyo-based Japanese craftsman brings old books back to life by making them look brand new through his amazing technique obtained after more than 3 decades of experience in his shop from the Suidobashi area of Japan’s capital.
From Japanese Craftsman Brings Old Books Back to Life by Making Them Look Brand New - Gypsy.Ninja
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Letter: Libraries are huge tax burden

The letter on Aug. 23 by Bill Weller is a prime example of entitlement and why our taxes are so high. I’ve been saying for years that libraries should no longer be on the tax roles and under the burden of the taxpayer. I’m not saying libraries are not useful, because they are. I know there are many advocates for libraries, but it should no longer be the responsibility of the taxpayer to supply people with books, videos, computer cafes, and personal entertainment. Most schools have libraries, so your kids already have access to the books they need and we all know who pays for the schools.  
From Letter: Libraries are huge tax burden | Northwest Herald
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On Refusing to Read

My small act of countercultural scholarly agency has been to refuse to continue reading or assigning the work of David Foster Wallace. The machine of his celebrity masks, I have argued, the limited benefits of spending the time required to read his work. Our time is better spent elsewhere. I make this assessment given the evidence I have so far accumulated — I have read and taught some of his stories and nonfiction, have read some critical essays on Wallace’s work, and have read D.T. Max’s biography of Wallace — and without feeling professionally obligated to spend a month reading Infinite Jest in order to be absolutely sure I’m right. If I did spend a month reading the book, I would be adding my professional investment to the load of others’ investments, which — if we track it back — are the result of a particular marketing campaign that appealed to a Jurassic vision of literary genius.
From On Refusing to Read - The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Strange Way People Perceive Privacy Online

The reason, Mamonov thinks, has a lot to do with people’s perceptions of surveillance. He guessed study participants would have wanted to protect themselves against it; instead, he says, the magnitude of the threat seems to have instilled a sense of helplessness that made them less likely to put an effort into securing themselves.
From The Strange Way People Perceive Privacy Online - Nextgov.com

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